August Novena: Saint Philomena, States of Life: the Poor

291 – 304

Feast Day: August 11

Patron of: the Poor

Keywords: the poor, children, babies, priests, lost causes, youth

Symbols: palms, arrows, anchor, crown

Quote: “For the love of God! It might well be that her name is not Philomena, but this Saint has performed many miracles and it is not the name that did them.” Padre Pio

Never official canonized, and listed in the local Calendar of Saints for only 130 years before being removed, Saint Philomena enjoys a unique and fervid following among common people, popes and saints. Her remains discovered seventeen centuries after her death, Saint Philomena is known as one of the great Wonder Workers of the nineteenth century and is the only person declared a saint based solely on their intercessionary powers. Recognized for her miraculous influence by six popes and ten different saints who have claimed personal experiences through her intervention, she is called upon when things look most hopeless. Discovered by a priest who hailed from a poverty-stricken parish near Naples, she is said to be particularly in tune with the needs of the poor.

In 1802, the bones of a girl between the ages of 13 and 15 were discovered in the Catacombs of Priscilia in Rome, Italy. Three tiles closing off her space hollowed into the rock read, “Peace be with thee, Philomena”. Entombed with the girl was a vial thought to contain blood as well as drawings of a palm, two anchors and three arrows. Because these images were well known symbols used by early Christians to convey martyrdom, it was established that the girl was one of the many virgin martyrs in the early, underground church. In 1805 a young priest from the diocese of Nola (a district near Naples) requested the Vatican to allow him to obtain a relic for the new altar in the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Mugnano. Because he felt a spiritual affinity when he was near her remains, he was allowed to take the relics of the recently discovered virgin martyr back with him. Before her remains were translated to the church, they were put on display in Naples. Almost immediately, there were reports of miraculous healing. When her relics arrived in Mugnano on August 11, 1805, a cult rapidly grew, attributing many miracles to the intercession of the little martyr.

In 1833 a Neapolitan nun, Sister Maria Luisa de Gesu, claimed to have a vision of Philomena who relayed her life story. According to her vision, Philomena was the daughter of the king of Corfu in Greece. When the Emperor Diocletian of Rome threatened her father’s kingdom with war, he traveled to Rome with his family in order to obtain peace. There Philomena discovered Christianity and vowed her virginity to Christ. When the Emperor saw how beautiful she was, he asked to marry her. When the young girl refused him, she was tortured and then drowned with an anchor tied around her neck. When two angels raised her up out of the sea, she was shot with arrows. After this failed to kill her, she was decapitated. According to the nun’s vision, Philomena declared that August 11th, the day her relics were installed in Mugnano, was also the anniversary of her death.

In 1835, when Pauline Jaricot, the well-known and respected French reformer was gravely ill with heart disease, she made a pilgrimage to Mugnano and was completely cured by Philomena. News of this event spread throughout France and Spain and Philomena attracted such notable devotees as Saint Anthony Mary Claret from Spain and Saint John Vianney of France who built his own shrine to the little martyr. Several popes, while still cardinals paid visits to Philomena’s shrine. Pope Pius IX credits her with curing him of epilepsy. Saints such as Francis Xavier Cabrini, Padre Pio and Father Damian are numbered among her devotees. When the Calendar of Saints was reassessed to only list saints who had historical proof of their existence, Philomena lost her place. Her cult is still very strong and pilgrims from around the world visit her shrine in Mugnano.

Symbols:
Crown – of royal birth
Anchor – early Christian symbol of being ‘anchored by Christ’
Palms – martyrdom
Arrows – method of martyrdom

NOVENA PRAYER TO SAINT PHILOMENA

O Faithful Virgin and glorious martyr, St. Philomena, who works so many miracles on behalf of the poor and sorrowing, have pity on me. Thou knowest the multitude and diversity of my needs. Behold me at thy feet, full of misery, but full of hope. I entreat thy charity, O great Saint! Graciously hear me and obtain from God a favorable answer to the request which I now humbly lay before thee.. (mention your intention).
I am firmly convinced that through thy merits, through the scorn, the sufferings and the death thou didst endure, united to the merits of the Passion and death of Jesus, thy Spouse, I shall obtain what I ask of thee, and in the joy of my heart I will bless God, who is admirable in His Saints. Amen.

End with:
Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us!
Saint Philomena, powerful with God, hear our prayers!

(excerpted from the novena app)

 

Novena App Saints of Health: Arthritis, Saint Alphonsus Liguori

1696 – 1787
Feast Day: August 1

Doctor of the Church

Patron: Arthritis sufferers

Keywords: Confessors, Moral Theologians, Lawyers, Scruples

Quote: “Your God is ever beside you, indeed He is even within you.”

Symbols: chin in chest, writing pen, book, bishops’ hat and staff

So crippled with arthritis that he could not lift his head off of his chest, St. Alphonsus Liguori looked on his illness as a grace since it made him use his earthly time in the most productive manner possible. In chronic pain and expecting to die at any moment, he went on to publish over 60 books dealing with theological studies, as well as music and poetry. He is invoked by those suffering with arthritis for a cure as well as those seeking a way to live a productive life while stricken with illness.

Born into a noble but poor family near Naples in 1696, Alphonsus Liguori was the eldest of seven children. Though he was physically small with poor eyesight, he was incredibly intelligent and musically talented. Because of his poor eyesight he could not follow in his father’s military footsteps, but his intellectual brilliance made him the hope of his family, as he received his law degree at the early age of sixteen. He quickly became famous in the Neapolitan courts for never losing a case. A devout Catholic, he credited his success with his daily mass going. After eight years of constant triumph, Alphonsus was stunned to lose an extremely important and public case due to his own oversight regarding a signed document. Humiliated, he looked on this personal disaster as sign from God and fasted and prayed for three days. While doing charitable work in the Hospital for the Incurables, he had a vision commanding him to quit the world and give himself to God. His father was outraged when left the law for the priesthood.

Devoting his work to those on the outskirts of society, he founded the Redemptorist Fathers, an order devoted to doing missionary work among the poor. Though gifted with the ability to argue the most finite facts of law or theology Alphonsus Liguori always preached in the simplest terms, writing many books and pamphlets in the vernacular of the common person. Because of his great popularity as a preacher, his religious order began to attract many young people. Living at a time of great political and religious upheaval and plagued with deteriorating health, Alphonsus Liguori never enjoyed much peace in his life. Instead, he welcomed these obstacles as an opportunity to perfect his soul.

Novena to St. Alphonsus Liguori

Glorius Saint Alphonsus, loving fathr of the poor and sick, all your life you devoted yourself with a charity really heroic to lightening their spiritual and bodily miseries. Full of confidence in your tender pity for the sick, since you yourself have patiently borne the cross of illness, I come to you for help in my present need.

(Mention your request).

Loving father of the suffering, Saint Alphonsus, whom I invoke as the Arthritic Saint, since you suffered from the disease in your lifetime, look with compassion upon me in my suffering. Beg God to give me good health. If it is not God’s will to cure me, then give me strength to bear my cross patiently and to offer my sufferings in union with my crucified Savior and His Mother of Sorrows, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, in reparation for my sins and those of others, for the needs of this troubled world, and for the souls in purgatory.

(Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory Be.)

Saint Alphonsus, patron of the sick, pray for me. Amen

Excerpted from the Novena App

 

 

Saint Anthony of Padua, Novena App Situations: Lost Articles

1195 – 1231

“Saint Anthony, please come around, there’s something lost that must be found.”

Doctor of the Church

Feast Day: June 13

Patron of: Lisbon, Portugal, Padua, amputees, barren women, domestic animals, draftees, oppressed people, orphans, paupers, the poor, pregnant women, prisoners, sailors

Invoked for: finding a husband, finding lost articles

Invoked against: debt, shipwreck, starvation

Symbols: baby Jesus, book of Gospels, lily

Wonder and miracles are infused with every story of Saint Anthony. Though he has been dead for almost 800 years, he is still the most popular saint in the world and his statue is found in every Catholic Church. Saint Anthony is best known as the patron saint of lost articles but he is invoked for help in all life situations. In his own day he was called the “Wonder Worker’ and credited with the ability to stop the rain, raise the dead and reattach severed limbs. He was such a charismatic preacher that when a crowd of heretics in Rimini refused to listen to his preaching, the fish raised themselves out of the water to hear him.

Born Fernando de Bulhes in Lisbon, Portugal, he disappointed his noble family by rejecting his luxurious life and joining the Augustinian religious order. A scholar by nature, he read every book in the monastery, devoting his time to contemplative prayer. Eventually, he befriended a group of itinerant Franciscan monks and became fascinated with this new religious order. Much impressed by their dedication to simplicity, poverty and their belief in returning to the original words of Christ, he joined their ranks, changing his name to Anthony in honor of Saint Anthony of the Desert, the patron of their little church. Returning home from a failed missionary venture in Morocco, his ship was blown off course and he wound up in Messina, Sicily. A group of Franciscan friars insisted he go north with them for a great gathering of all Franciscans, with their founder Francis of Assisi.

Anthony remained in Italy and discovered his great gift of preaching when a superior ordered him to speak at an ordination, telling him to say whatever the holy spirit had infused into him. He astonished his audience, not only by his skills as an orator but by the depth of his knowledge. He was sent throughout northern Italy and southern France on evangelical preaching missions which gathered crowds in the tens of thousands. His popularity among the people increased as he used his position to get real changes enacted for their protection. While based in Padua, he observed the crushing power of debt upon the common people. At Anthony’s insistence, the local municipality enacted a law protecting those who could not pay their debts that is still enforced today.

Anthony exhausted himself preaching out in fields and in piazzas as there was not cathedral large enough to hold all who came to hear him. At the age of thirty six, his health began to fail him and a local Count donated a woodland retreat for his recovery. One morning the Count heard the sounds of a baby giggling and he looked out to see Anthony surrounded in light, playing with the baby Jesus. That Christ would choose to appear to one of his saints in such a vulnerable state is a testament to the loving and kind nature of Saint Anthony. Because he is depicted holding a baby, women having trouble conceiving invoke his aid. Being of Portuguese descent, Anthony’s feast day is very auspicious for marriages in Portugal and Brazil and in those cultures, he is known to assist women seeking a husband.

According to legend, Saint Anthony earned the title patron saint of lost articles when a novice borrowed his psalter and failed to return it. Saint Anthony prayed to get it back and the novice was visited by terrifying visions that sent him running back to Anthony with the book. In iconography, Anthony always holds the baby Jesus and a lily for purity. Many times the returned book of the gospels is included.

Novena to Saint Anthony of Padua

Holy Saint Anthony, gentle and powerful in your help, Your love for God and charity for His creatures, made you worthy when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were always ready to request for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (mention your request here). The answer to my prayer may require a miracle. Even so, you are the saint of miracles. Gentle and loving Saint Anthony, whose heart is ever full of human sympathy, take my petition to the Infant Savior for whom you have such a great love, and the gratitude of my heart will be ever yours.
Amen

It is customary to donate to Saint Anthony’s Bread, a charity started in Saint Anthony’s lifetime, in gratitude to answered novena prayers.

(Excerpted from the Novena App). Continue reading

Saint Vincent Ferrer, Novena App Occupations: Builders

1350-1419

Patron of: Builders

Feast Day: April 5

 

Quote: “Christ, master of humility, manifests his truth only to the humble and hides himself from the proud.”

Keywords: construction workers, brick makers, epilepsy, fields, headaches, inn keepers, lightning strikes, penance, plumbers, preachers, tile makers, reconciliation, roofers, vineyards

Symbols: Dominican habit, flame overhead, trumpets, banner

Born in Valencia, Spain to an English father and Spanish mother, Vincent Ferrer’s time on earth was spent during an extremely tumultuous period in history. The Black Death had ravaged Europe, decimating the population and the church was divided in a Great Schism, with three men claiming the papacy at one time.  Because of his work in healing this rupture and his untiring labors in revitalizing the faithful, as well as his charismatic ability to convert thousands, he is the patron of builders and those in all of the construction trades.

With encouragement from his parents, Vincent realized his dream of becoming a Dominican friar at an early age. His intellectual gifts were immediately apparent and he soon became an expert on theology and scripture. His advice was much sought after by bishops and cardinals, and eventually, Vincent was summoned to Avignon to advise the schismatic pope Benedict XIII.    In 1398 he suffered from a near fatal fever where he had a vision of Christ, Saint Dominic de Guzman (founder of the Dominicans), and Saint Francis of Assisi advising him to unite the world by evangelizing throughout it. Always a popular and skillful preacher, Vincent’s talents were said to have become supernatural after this vision. He left his political duties and took it upon himself to travel throughout Western Europe preaching about the Final Judgment, earning him the title “Angel of the Apocalypse.” Though he could only converse in his native Catalan, he was clearly understood by the tens of thousands who thronged to hear him preach.  The Moslem-controlled city of Granada invited him to speak there resulting in 8,000 conversions. At a time when many were left reeling and faithless by the plague which had killed off one fourth of the population, Vincent Ferrer’s message of hope in the face of despair was wildly popular in cities and towns in England, France, Italy the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Spain. Throngs of religious pilgrims drawn from every level of society devoted themselves to a life of penance, following him wherever he went. Along with his spectacular success as an evangelist, he also had the ability to heal the sick and hours were put aside every day for his prayers and cures. Because many of his miracles took place where thousands could gather in fields, one of his patronages is the protection of fields. Because lightning was such a threat to crops, he is also invoked against lightning strikes.

Vincent Ferrer is credited with helping to heal the great schism in the church when he realized that his friend and benefactor Benedict XIII should relinquish his claims on the papacy when he refused to submit himself to a vote among cardinals.  Vincent withdrew his support and recognition of him and Benedict XIII was deposed in favor of Gregory XII in Rome.

Explanation of symbols:

Banner has a quote from the Book of Revelation, reading, “Fear God and give him honor, for the hour of his judgment is coming.”  This was the summation of Vincent’s mission.

Trumpet: Sounds warning of the end of the world.

Flame over head: Apostolic gift of the Holy Spirit. The ability to communicate in all languages.

Angel Wings: Vincent Ferrer was known as the “Angel of the Apocalypse”.

 

Novena to St. Vincent Ferrer

 

O Saint Vincent Ferrer, our guardian, because God, our eternal Father, has blessed you with and inexhaustible fountain of grace and blessing, we beg you to hear our prayers and to assist us with your powerful intercession which is even more effective now that you are in heaven than it was when you were on earth. Full of confidence in your mercy and compassion, we kneel in prayer before you, and commend to your powerful intercession all our needs, those of our families, our friends, relatives, and especially (your request here).

 

Glorious Saint Vincent Ferrer, let not our hope and confidence in your protection be deceived. Intercede for us before the throne of God. Watch over our eternal welfare. If our trials and tribulations in this world multiply, may they serve to give us spiritual joy and happiness. If God will only grant us the grace of ever increasing patience to the end that we may save our souls. Amen.

excerpted from the Novena App

Novena App Saints of Health: Saint John of God, Patron of Heart Ailments

detail from a painting of Saint John of God saving sick people from a fire at the royal hospital, by Manuel Gomez-Moreno Gonzalez, 1880; Museo de Bellas Artres, Granada, Spain; swiped from Wikimedia Commons; click for source image

1495 – 1550

Feast Day: March 8

Quote: “I give myself to God. What I have is yours.”

Key Words: alcoholism, heart ailments, the dying, the sick, hospitals, booksellers, firefighters, nurses, printers

Patron of: heart ailments

Symbols: pomegranate, cross, humbly serving

 

A Portuguese mercenary who fought in several wars, sold slaves, and lived hard, John was known to “think with his heart” by acting impulsively. At the age of 40, retired from the army and a book dealer in Granada, he heard a sermon that changed his life. He became as extreme in his dedication to his religious life as he had once been to his life as a soldier. He tested the physical limits of his own heart by serving the sick and poor with an intense fervor. He is invoked by those plagued with heart conditions for protection against heart attacks.

Brought up by pious and simple people, John  had left home for a life of adventure when he was still a young boy. He worked as a shepherd and as soon as he was able, he enlisted in an army regiment. By the time his regiment disbanded, John was weary of the immoral life he led as a soldier. When he went to find his parents, he was told by an uncle that they had both died grief stricken over his disappearance. John vowed to live a better life and began selling pious pictures from town to town. On the road to Granada he met a barefoot child on the road who he offered to carry. To his surprise the child became heavier and heavier. When John put the child down at a fountain, the child gave him the title he would always be known as, saying, “John of God, Granada shall be your cross,” before disappearing. It was in Granada that he opened his book store and heard the sermon of John of Avila which shattered his existence. The thought of all the wrongs he committed in his life drove him to madness. Incarcerated in a filthy hospital, he suffered the mistreatment of the insane first hand.  As he recovered his sanity, he began helping the nursing staff. Upon his release, he devoted the rest of his life to the sick and destitute, never forgetting how terribly they were treated in the local institutions. He founded the Order of the Brother Hospitallers and opened a hospital, funding it by begging in the streets. When his hospital was burning down, he ran in and carried each patient out one by one. He is frequently depicted carrying a hospital patient. Because of this he is also considered a patron of firefighters.

While recovering from an illness, John of God leapt into a river in an unsuccessful attempt at rescuing a drowning boy. He died on his 55th birthday from an over-exhausted heart.

The symbol of Granada is the pomegranate, it is also a fruit with many seeds, which John’s Order took as a symbol of their founder’s spiritual influence.

Invoked against: alcoholism, heart attack

 

 NOVENA PRAYER TO SAINT JOHN OF GOD FOR A CURE

Saint John of God, heavenly Patron of the Sick, I come to you in prayer to seek your help in my present sickness. Through the love which Jesus had for you in choosing you for the sublime vocation of serving the sick, and through the tender affection with which the Blessed Virgin Mary placed upon your head a crown of thorns as a symbol of the sufferings you would undergo in the service of the sick to attain to your crown of glory, I beg you to intercede for me to Jesus and Mary that They may grant me a cure, if this should be according to the Will of God.

How patiently you bore the sufferings of your own disease! Teach me to carry with cheerful resignation the cross that God has given me. Let me never complain or lose courage. Help

me to understand that suffering is a very important means of sanctifying my soul, of atoning for my many sins, and of reaping a plentiful harvest of merit for Heaven. I trust in your great love for the sick and in the power of your intercession to help them. Help me, good St. John, and beg the God whose name you bear to touch me as He touched the sick while on earth, that through His almighty power health may return to my body. And as you derived strength in your own sufferings from the crucifix, so may I be able to say what you did to Jesus Crucified: “Lord, Thy thorns are my roses and Thy sufferings my paradise.”

Good Saint John, lover of those who suffer and special Patron of the Sick, I confidently place before you my earnest petition.

(Mention your request.)

I beg you to recommend my request to Mary, the Mother of Sorrows and Health of the Sick, that both Mary and you may present it to Jesus, the Divine Physician.

Saint John of God, patron of the Sick and beloved of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request. (Three times.)

In honor of Saint John of God:

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Saint John of God, Patron of the Sick, pray for us.

 

Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

Click here for this and 35 other saints on the Novena App

Novena App Health Saints: Saint Agatha, Patron Saint of Breast Cancer

    Death: 251

 

Feast Day: February 5

Patron of: Breast Cancer

Quote: “Do not offend Agatha’s nation, because she will avenge all insults”. – Inscription on the façade of the Cathedral of St. Agatha in Catania, Sicily

 

Keywords; breast cancer, burns, pulmonary diseases, bell ringers, bell makers, brass workers, cloth makers, glass workers, wet nurses, nursing mothers, nurses, fires, volcanic eruptions

Symbols: breasts on a dish, palms

 

A national heroine to Sicilians, a great figure in art and one of the few saints mentioned in the Catholic mass, St. Agatha is a fierce and fearless role model for anyone who lives in modern times. A martyr, she is most often invoked by those suffering from diseases of the breast. Her tomb has been a place of miraculous healing since her death. Because of her courage in standing up to the Roman authorities, anyone persecuted by them, Pagans, Jews and Christians all made pilgrimages in her honor. In modern times, her feast day is an important holiday, attracting hundreds of thousands of devotees who process through the streets of Catania.

 

An orphaned daughter of wealthy Christians, Agatha was considered an attractive marriage prospect by  Quintianus, the ruling Roman consul of Sicily. Taking advantage of  the recent Roman decree outlawing Christianity, Quintianus assumed Agatha would renounce her religion and acquiesce to his proposal of marriage. She refused him on both counts, telling him that she had dedicated her virginity to Jesus Christ. Refusing to marry and bear children was considered an act of political defiance in those times. Agatha’s rejection of him so enraged Quintianus that he had Agatha taken to a brothel and forced her to live as a prostitute for thirty days. When she was brought back before him, he ordered her to sacrifice to the Roman gods. She pointed out that no Roman wife would dare live like Venus and no Roman husband could legally do the things that Jupiter was known for, why would she follow such gods? Christ lived what he preached, love and forgiveness; she would follow him instead. Agatha was then tortured by having her breasts slowly rushed and cut off. Thrown back in prison and left to die, an elderly man and a young boy came into her cell. Revealing himself as St. Peter, Agatha was miraculously healed. The next day, Quintianus ordered her to be rolled in broken pottery and hot coals. As this torture was being inflicted, an earthquake leveled Catania. The citizens of that city, declaring that this was God’s vengeance for what was happening to Agatha, chased Quintianus out of town and the terrified consul drowned in the river. Agatha offered her soul up to Christ and died.

 

The year after her death Mount Etna erupted and a lava flow threatened Catania. Agatha’s death shroud was taken out and held aloft which immediately stopped the lava. This same shroud has been used many times over the years to protect the city. Because of her tortures Agatha is the patron of those suffering from breast disease as well as those suffering from burns. Trades that use burning coals also claim her. Bells, which are signals for fire alarms and also resemble breasts are closely identified with this saint. Saint Agatha’s bread, shaped like breasts or bells are a specialty served around the time of her feast.

 

Explanation of symbols:

Mt. Etna in the background: Agatha protects Sicilians against its eruptions. She is the patron and protector of Sicily.

Offering breasts on a dish: Agatha suffered the gruesome torture of having her breasts cut off. Because of her faith, she easily endured this torture and offered it up to God.

Palms: a sign of martyrdom. Christ was showered in palms the Sunday before he was executed.

 

 

Novena to Saint Agatha

 

O Saint Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for your devotion to our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity, and martyrdom.

Protect us against rape and other violations, guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to overcome adversity.

O Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice may receive your intercession.

(Mention your request).

Amen.

Excerpted from the novena app. Find this and 35 other novena saints here.